Former NATO chief backs pause in Gaza war, but not cease-fire

The former leader of NATO said a “humanitarian pause” in Gaza “makes sense,” citing the need to help civilians in the region as the war between Israel and Hamas militants continues.

But, he refused to back a full cease-fire in the conflict.

“I don’t think a sweeping, in place, cease-fire is appropriate from the military perspective, if you’re looking at this from the Israeli side of events,” retired U.S. Adm. James Stavridis said Friday in an interview with MSNBC.

The Biden administration has pushed for a pause in fighting in recent days in order to assist civilians in the area. The Israeli counteroffensive in Gaza has killed over 9,200 people, including over 3,800 children, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

“A cease-fire is everyone stops, really freeze the frame. That’s not what Israel is going to do nor would I recommend it as a military officer,”  Stavridis continued. “What they should do, in my view, is humanitarian pauses.”

“I think humanitarian pauses make sense. A general, sweeping cease-fire, to my eyes, does not,” he added.

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President Biden first made his position clear in favor of a pause on Wednesday.

“I think we need a pause,” he said. “A pause means give time to get the prisoners out.”

Nonprofit leaders and aid organizations have described a dire situation for civilians in Gaza, including dwindling food and water reserves and a lack of power and medical supplies.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Israel on Saturday to deliver the same message, though the administration has also not backed a total cease-fire in the conflict. It comes after over a dozen Democratic Senators urged Biden to back a pause in hostilities this week.

“The failure to adequately protect non-combatant civilians risks dramatic escalation of the conflict in the region and imposes severe damage on prospects for peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians,” the letter reads, led by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

“Based on the consensus opinion of U.S. and international aid officials, it is nearly impossible to deliver sufficient humanitarian aid to protect civilian life under current conditions,” the senators added. “Thus, we join President Biden in his call for a short-term cessation of hostilities that pose high-risk to civilians, aid workers or humanitarian aid delivery in Gaza[.]”

The conflict was sparked on Oct. 7 after Hamas invaded Israel in a surprise attack, killing more than 1,400 Israelis and taking over 200 people hostage.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that there would be no pause in strikes until Hamas releases all of the hostages.

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